Nkem Owoh aka Osuofia: His Career, His Fame and His Achievement
Report by Ossai Ovie Success – The name Nkem Owoh may not be popular with a lot of Nigerians, but mention the name “Osuofia” and you will get an instant reaction from them. Owoh is an individual aptly categorised in the “old school” of Nollywood who has brought smiles, laughter and happiness to the faces of Nigerians with his dramatic acting skills and interpretation of roles.
Indeed, this man has gone on to receive critical acclaim both in and outside Nigeria for his works; so, who is Nkem Owoh that nearly got in trouble with the Buckingham Palace guards for his jester act?
Nkem Owoh was born on February 7, 1958, in Amagu Village, Udi Town in Enugu State. He attended primary and secondary schools in Enugu State and then proceeded to the Federal University of Agriculture, Abeokuta, Ogun State, where he bagged a degree in Engineering.
Upon graduation, Nkem Owoh began his professional career as a broadcaster with the Nigerian Television Authority (NTA), Enugu Zone. He worked with the national broadcasting outfit for a while before he moved to the Anambra State Broadcasting Service (ASBS). It was at ASBS that he reportedly began to learn the ropes of scripting and writing for broadcasting and acting, a skill which would eventually become pivotal for him, in the years ahead.
Owoh, who had begun taking interest in television and film productions and acted on stage while in school, officially began his career in the Nigerian movie scene as a writer. He is credited with providing the English subtitle of the popular Igbo-speaking movie, Living in Bondage. which was produced in 1992. He also has his writing credits The New Masquerade, Tales by Moonlight, and Bassey and Company.
In between the period when he was a scriptwriter, the Enugu-born actor got behind the camera for his first professional gig in 1987 in Things Fall Apart – a movie adaption of the popular novel written by the late Chinua Achebe. He subsequently starred in Circle of Doom, a movie which was produced in 1993 by the makers of Living in Bondage.
His stock began to rise in the movie industry following his appearance in several movies. However, it was not until the year 2000 that Owoh “got his flowers” for his performance in the comedy movie Ukwa. It was the first time he was featured as the lead character and the consensus of movie critics was that he interpreted his role brilliantly.
Three years later, precisely in 2003, the actor suddenly had the world at his feet following his performance in the movie: Osuofia in London. Owoh acted as the movie’s main character (Osuofia) in which he depicted a local Igbo villager who travelled to London, the British capital, following the demise of his brother. The success of the film was quite huge as it was widely applauded both at home and abroad. This also translated to Nkem Owoh subsequently being called Osuofia by Nigerians, and that practice has remained constant to date.
Nkem Owoh is an award-winning actor who has worked with numerous Nollywood actors and actresses in a career that has stretched over 35 years. He has won several individual movie awards for his performances and was subsequently recognized as a legend in the industry with the Life Time Achievement Award by the Africa Movie Academy Awards and the Lifetime Achievement Award bestowed upon him by City People Entertainment Award.
Owoh has featured in over 250+ movies in both the English and Igbo genres of Nollywood. Some of the movies have gone on to become instant hits and classics, with a few of them hitting box office records.
Nkem Owoh was one of the early exponents of Nollywood who also tried his hands at singing. He released just under 10 songs, some of which found their way to the limelight. One song, in particular, I Go Chop Your Dollar, gained notoriety due to its message and fierce objection by the Nigerian authorities.
Whether he is well versed as a singer is still contentious and left to the public to judge, but he stopped singing after a while to concentrate on his acting career.
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